Thursday, November 12, 2009

NOVEMBER 12, 2009 -- Carlos Gomez is out of the Doghouse!...And Post-Season Awards

Greetings all of you in Twinsland. It's been a while since I've posted here at the MTRC, but I have to admit -- I relished the month away from the blog, a month in which I thought about the disastrous Twins very rarely. Bums like Ron Gardenhire and Nick Punto are but a distant memory at this point in my mind, which is refreshing. I only have about four months here before I get to hear those names again.

After the Twins' predictably pathetic showing in the playoffs against the Yankees, I watched the other playoff games sparingly. I tried my best to watch some of the ALCS between New York and the Angels, but man, oh, man -- MLB has a lot to work on if it wants to retain its fan base. Soooooo boring! Game 2 of the ALCS was the worst. Whenever I tuned in to try to watch a bit of the game, Jose Molina was running out to the mound -- eight times in one inning -- to talk to A.J. Burnett. The games moved at a snail's pace, and just weren't fun to watch. Worst of all, the Yankees had to win the whole thing, though rooting for the Phillies isn't exactly great either. It turned out to be a Big Spender's version of the playoffs, with four teams with bloated payrolls playing in the League Championship Series'. And it was because I thought that the Tigers had a better chance than the Twins of beating the Yankees (Detroit actually won a game against New York during the season) that I thought the Twins' late-season charge was unfortunate on two levels: not only would the Yankees be able to beat the Twins in their sleep, but the Twins' season would suddenly be remembered as a success, and thus key offseason moves that need to be made in order to improve the team wouldn't be made.

But one move has been made that is of significance: Carlos Gomez is going to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Now, let's be fair here -- Hardy had a terrible 2009 season, one in which he was sent down to the minor leagues because he was so bad. But, considering the Twins used Nick Punto for the majority of the season there and then turned to an over-the-hill Orlando Cabrera down the stretch, Hardy will give the Twins a shot in the arm at the shortstop position. He's young, a terrific fielder, and, when he's on, an above-average bat for his position. Hardy's acquisition means that Cabrera won't be back, which is a great thing. I had a bad feeling that Cabrera's play down the stretch would have led to a two-year extension from the front office, but, for once, the Twins do the right thing and give Cabrera his walking papers.

More importantly, Carlos Gomez is gone. Talk about FANTASTIC NEWS! I will finally say goodbye to the one player that I think is the barnone stupidest human being to put on a baseball uniform. I've never seen a player that is so, so demented in the head; and what's worse, I've never seen a manager so demented in the head that's so delusional as to play the truly moronic Gomez on a near-daily basis for the better part of two seasons. Yeah, we're talking about Ron Gardenhire, who put faith in the idiotic Gomez that he could "get the job done." Probably the fastest player the team has had since Otis Nixon, Gomez turned out to be the absolute worst baserunner possible, utilizing that speed by making overly-aggressive baserunning blunders (see Game 2 of the ALDS). And at the plate, Gomez looked like a parapalegic pregnant woman whose water just broke. This being said, Milwaukee will probably start Gomez in the minor leagues (where he belongs) and he'll learn baseball from the school of hard knocks, and develop into a fine National League ballplayer. For the Twins, it leaves just the maybe-he-will-or-maybe-he-won't-pan-out Deolis Guerra as the lone remnant of the disastrous Johan Santana trade of 2008. Hardy is now an offshoot, of course, and the jury's still out on whether he can recover from a poor 2009. But using the failsafe rubric of "well, he's a lot better than Nick Punto," Hardy's sure an upgrade at the shortstop position.


Next week the baseball writers' awards will be announced, and I thought it might be fun to do a little prognosticating on this site. Not that my words count for anything, but here we go:


1. Rick Porcello, P, Detroit
2. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas
3. Gordon Beckham, 3B, Chicago

I do think Andrus is going to get the award, as his defense and surprising offense helped Texas stay in the race for much longer than they were expected to. And everyday players always seem to have the edge in Rookie of the Year voting, especially when there's not a runaway rookie pitcher among the contenders. But Porcello's performance in Game 163 sold it for me. Here's a 20-year-old who showed his meddle bigtime in the biggest game of his life. He ended the season as a more-than-comparable #2 man in the rotation behind the Tigers' stellar ace Justin Verlander.


1. Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida
2. J.A. Happ, P, Philadelphia
3. Tommy Hanson, P, Atlanta

Happ and Hanson are both good candidates to win the award, as they both produced 10+ wins and sub-3.00 ERAs. Coghlan, however, is a perfect Rookie of the Year winner -- one who comes out of nowhere, quickly secures a starting spot, and hits the ball with authority. Does anybody realize he finished sixth in the NL in batting with a .321 average? I had to look that one up twice.


1. Ron Washington, Texas
2. Don Wakamatsu, Seattle
3. Jim Leyland, Detroit

Yeah, you were thinking that I was going to put Ron Gardenhire on this list? There have been rumors that a Manager of the Year award for Gardy was in the offing, but I just don't see it. You play like absolute doggie do-do for five and a half months and then play good for two weeks, and you're the best manager in the league? Puh-lease. The Twins were predicted to run away with the Central in 2009; Managers of the Year are usually those managers who take bad teams and turn them into a surprise contender. How Ron Washington was able to get almost 90 wins out of that pitching staff is truly a credit to his managing. And Wakamatsu inherited a messy Mariner team that lost 100 games in 2008 and turned in a winning season in his rookie year as manager.


1. Jim Tracy, Colorado
2. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
3. Tony LaRussa, St. Louis

No contest here. Tracy's the runaway winner in this race, as he took over for the Rockies in late May when Colorado was 10 games under .500, and directed them to a 74-42 finish and the wild-card. Bochy's Giants were a mild surprise, too, in the suddenly ultra-competitive NL West, but it should be a unanimous victory for Tracy.


1. Zach Greinke, Kansas City
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle
3. Justin Verlander, Detroit

This should be a runaway Cy Young for Greinke, but sadly his 16 wins will make the race a close one, and might cost him the award. Those that think that C.C. Sabathia should win the award are those with the typical East Coast bias; Greinke was far and away the best pitcher in the league, and if Greinke was on a team other than the hapless Royals, he would have won well over 20 games. Hernandez is deserving to win the award in any year that didn't also feature Greinke's brilliance. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sabathia win the Cy.


1. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco

Both Carpenter and Wainwright are deserving of the award, and I feel that this race might be like the Academy Awards in a bit; Carpenter (and Lincecum, for that matter) has won the award already, and Wainwright hasn't. It's kind of like when Kate Winslet won Best Actress last year even though Meryl Streep could out-act Winslet in her sleep -- it's just that Meryl's won before and Winslet's been perennially stepped on by the Academy. So, for better or worse, it's Wainwright this year, though Carpenter might pick up his second Cy, as a kind of comeback-player of the year plus Cy Young combo prize.


1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
3. Mark Teixeira, New York

This one shouldn't be close, either, but like Greinke, Mauer resides in small-market-ville, and when East Coast voters pulled the lever, it was probably hard for them not to go for Teixeira or Derek Jeter, who people think like should win an MVP, because he somehow like deserves one for his Hall of Fame resume (yeah, right). Look at the numbers -- Mauer is on a different planet than everybody else, and should have won the award in 2006, too. It's time to give Mauer his comeuppance, Winslet-style.


1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida
3. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles

Pujols is like the FDR of the National League -- if his name is on the ballot, he's going to win. Between Pujols and Mauer, it's a hard choice selecting the best player in the game. Clearly Pujols is the class of the NL, but don't soon forget about Ramirez. He'll win an MVP one of these years, as he's quickly becoming one of the best all-around players in the league. I wonder how long Florida gets to hang onto him...


Send in your questions and comments to me at I plan on doing a Hot Stove-themed version of reader mail, so send me your suggestions on how to improve the club. Put yourself in Bill Smith's shoes for a day -- play general manager!

Photos: (1) AP/Peter Morgan; (2) AP/Morry Gash; (3) AP/Steven Senne